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Miami police arrest motorcyclist in shooting death of bicyclist

A confrontation on the Rickenbacker Causeway led to the fatal shooting. Miami-Dade’s top prosecutor called it “another senseless shooting.”
Screengrab from a video of Wednesday's altercation and shooting on the Rickenbacker Causeway that was obtained by The Miami Herald. [Special to Miami Herald]
Screengrab from a video of Wednesday's altercation and shooting on the Rickenbacker Causeway that was obtained by The Miami Herald. [Special to Miami Herald]
Published Aug. 16, 2019|Updated Aug. 16, 2019

Kadel Piedrahita, a cycling enthusiast who live-streamed a violent rant about a fellow biker before a morning ride earlier this week across the Rickenbacker Causeway, was arrested Friday in the fatal shooting of the man during an altercation that was caught live on video.

Piedrahita, 41, was picked up by police at his home Friday morning and was charged with single counts of second-degree murder with a firearm and aggravated assault with a firearm.

Police sought to question Piedrahita most of the day Wednesday after several videos surfaced of the early Wednesday morning confrontation on the bridge that clearly showed him firing a weapon. They were stymied when Piedrahita invoked his right not to speak and requested an attorney.

RELATED STORY: Video shows shooting of cyclist in Miami. The shooter still walks free, despite threats

Piedrahita was arrested without incident after two cyclists who rode with the group on Wednesday came forward to counter his attorney’s claim that Piedrahita acted in self-defense, a law enforcement source said.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she was disturbed by what she saw on the videos.

“This is another senseless shooting and in of all places, on our beautiful Rickenbacker Causeway, where an enjoyable early morning bike ride turned into something so tragic,” she said. “This gun violence will not be tolerated.”

Piedrahita is suspected of shooting Alex Palencia, a 49-year-old divorced father of two, on the William Powell Bridge on the causeway early Wednesday after the two men got into some type of a squabble. What exactly the two men were arguing about hasn’t been made clear.

According to a law-enforcement source, Piedrahita posted a first video on Facebook ripping Palencia, but the social-media service took it down because it violated its community standards.

The source said Piedrahita grew angry, blaming Palencia for the video being taken down — he then live-streamed a second, expletive-filled rant on Facebook in which he named Palencia several times, daring the insurance agent to approach him.

“I am doing this video to call out Alex Palencia,” Piedrahita began. “When you see me, come at me because I’m going to f--- you up. You messed with the wrong guy.” He ended the tirade telling Palencia he was going to cut him in half and added, “Touch me to see my fury. You will know my fury.”

A short time later, according to police, the suspected shooter fulfilled his promise.

Not long after his Facebook rant, Piedrahita hopped aboard his motorcycle, as his does several days a week, according to several riders. He began following the cyclists, who call themselves the Don Pan Riders, after a now defunct restaurant in South Miami where they used to begin their ride.

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On Wednesday morning at 6:15 a.m. a group of several dozen, including Palencia and Piedrahita’s son, set out on their bicycles from the corner of Red Road and Sunset Drive and headed north toward the toll booth that leads to Key Biscayne. Even after his Facebook tirade, Piedrahita followed along on his motorcycle, live-streaming the ride and blocking traffic from infringing on the cyclists.

But this time, shortly after Piedrahita caught up to the group, one of the riders — it isn’t clear if it was Palencia on the stream — reached out toward Piedrahita, who dropped his camera. With only the audio portion now recording, shouts could be heard, including one man shouting “shoot, shoot,” in Spanish.

According to a law-enforcement source, investigators obtained video that shows that Piedrahita initiated the physical confrontation by kicking Palencia.

Shortly after that, the faint sound of gunfire can be heard. A video obtained by the Miami Herald offered an explanation of what happened, but it was a bit fuzzy because of the distance and the focus.

In the video, five men can be seen who appear to be arguing on the south side of the causeway leading to Key Biscayne. The sky is still partially dark and the lights on the bridge are on. At one point a man in shorts and dark clothing who has been identified by police as Piedrahita, raises his right arm and a flash from the muzzle of a gun can be seen. Palencia, standing near the roadway, collapses. Then Piedrahita appears to point the weapon at another cyclist before the video ends.

Piedrahita’s attorney Sabino Jauregui, said his client called 911 and remained with Palencia until police arrived. A picture obtained by the Miami Herald, which the paper chose not to publish because of its graphic nature, showed Piedrahita sitting on the causeway holding what appears to be a cellphone with Palencia draped unconscious across his lap.

After the shooting, Piedrahita was taken into custody by Miami police. He remained at Miami police headquarters for several hours but invoked his right to not speak and requested an attorney. He was finally let go late in the evening.

What has never been made clear by investigators is if the weapon used to shoot Palencia belonged to Piedrahita or if he had a concealed weapons permit to carry it. Also unclear: What the men were arguing about.

On Wednesday, after being in police custody for several hours but refusing to cooperate, Piedrahita’s attorney Sabino Jauregui, without going into detail, said the shooting was preceded by some type of “beef” between his client and Palencia and that “whatever” his client did, “he did in self-defense.”

For the past two days a group of cyclists, who have set off on the same path as Wednesday’s ill-fated ride, have stopped on the causeway at the spot where Palencia was killed, and remembered him before a moment of silence.

Bruce Keno, a cycling enthusiast who didn’t ride with the group Wednesday but who is friends with several of the riders, called the shooting “a tragedy” for a group who “honestly don’t have a great reputation” to begin with.

“The whole biking community is in shock,” said Keno. “We still can’t believe it happened. This is going to be a tough one for us, for a while.”

This story was reported by Miami Herald staff writers Charles Rabin and David Ovalle.


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